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Cancer misdiagnosis: A difficult problem for patients

When it comes to a cancer misdiagnosis, it can happen in one of two ways. The first type of misdiagnosis falsely identifies cancer in a patient who does not have it. The second occurs when cancer is not identified in a patient who does have it.

Both cases can be devastating. In the first, a patient who does not need medications, radiation or chemotherapy may go through it, leaving them weakened, tired and immunocompromised. The side effects of these treatments are significant, though they outweigh the negatives of cancer in patients who do have it.

In the second case, a patient who does have cancer has to go without treatment. In the time they do without it, the cancer may worsen, spreading to other parts of the body. In worst-case scenarios, the cancer is no longer able to be treated once it's finally identified.

Why do cancer misdiagnoses occur?

Cancer misdiagnoses can happen for many reasons, and every patient's case is going to be different. However, there are some common causes such as:

  • Misreading patient charts and lab results
  • Receiving information about the wrong patient and relaying that information to the wrong patient
  • Failing to consider cancer in a young or otherwise healthy patient
  • Errors made during biopsies

There are many reasons why these misdiagnoses occur. There is no excuse for them, regardless of the cause. For those who have been misdiagnosed, that misdiagnosis could significantly affect their health or even lead to an unexpected death due to terminal illness or the severe side effects of treatment.

What should you do if you are misdiagnosed with cancer or a diagnosis is delayed?

In both cases, it's important for you to look after your rights as a patient and to protect your right to seek compensation from the medical provider who made the error. Speak with your doctor and the team first. In many cases, they will want to correct the incident in any way they can to avoid a lawsuit.

In many cases, an apology is nice but won't change what the patient has gone through or will go through in the future. In those instances, it's worth discussing the possibility of a medical malpractice lawsuit with your attorney, so that you can stand up for your rights and get the compensation that you or your family deserves. There is no place for these oversights in medicine, because they do significantly, and negatively, impact patients.

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